By QBR Fan Catherine Kirby
This is a list of books I've loved. Some were written many years ago and some very recently. However, I believe that when a book holds your attention and leaves an impression, a deep sigh or a big smile then it's one worth talking about. These are some of the ones I think will leave you with that kind of reaction.
1. Sunday Meals & Snake Neckties by Peggy Randall-Martin
This is a charming story of a family that come together every Sunday to share a meal and the day, in the 1950s. It's told through the eyes of a child, whose parents marriage is failing. You know that this eccentric and loving extended family will be the safety net and the warmth that surrounds her. It's a story with heart and a lot of fun that reads like a classic.
2. Lillian's List by Bradley Salters
It's surprising to read a novel that deals with loss in such terms of joyousness, honesty and tenderness. The main character goes through all the stages of grief. He is held onto by those around him who also loved his departed wife, Lillian. It is the last wishes of his wife written in a list of women she wants him to consider marrying, that enable him to start living again. It's a story of loss, hope, love and humour.
3. Is There Anything You Want? by Margaret Forster
This one is a well observed and insightful look at seven women. Each of them have been scared by the experience of serious illness and each have survived. Entering the lives of these women we discover that their reactions to this are as diverse as their characters. It shows how the small things, we overlook at times, can cause the most pain or greatest hope. This story made me look at things differently. I wonder if it will do the same for you.
4. Far from the Madding Crowd by Thomas Hardy
The well known story of Bathsheba, the beauty, who is unlucky in love. Her first husband, the dashing Sergeant Troy, loves someone else. The next man, Boldwood ends up killing the first. All the while, Gabriel Oak has loved her. Finally, when all else seems lost, Bathsheba comes to her senses and recognises what love is really all about. She understands the love and devotion she's been receiving from Gabriel without even noticing. This is a tale of passion, disillusionment, love and forgiveness. It's also very, very laugh-out-loud funny in places.
5. White Fang by Jack LondonI don't usually go for animal stories but White Fang is an exception. This wolf cub is a character right from the beginning. He grows from a naive cub that loses its mother to a brave and loyal wolf. He has a variety of owners - some cruel and some kind. The story is the journey this takes him on. It's full of adventure, pain and courage for both the humans and White Fang. Jack London, knew how to keep you turning the page. He made a wonderful hero and unforgettable story of the wolf cub who grew up to be White Fang.
6. C.V.A. A hard way back by Philip Catshill
Don't suppose you've ever wondered what it would be like inside the head of someone having a stroke? How it might feel and how you'd perceive the world? This fascinating memoir of such an experience that happened to a young man is amazing. It's written with humour and a good deal of courage. What an amazing spirit this man has. Instead of defeat and misery it's a story of conquering misfortune.
7. Twisted Vine by Alex Martin
A story of intrigue, romance and grape picking in the vineyards of France. It has themes of courage, love, disappointment and attitudes to people with disabilities. It's a colourful story with lots of twists and turns and mystery too. The characters do not flex their six packs, drive flashy cars or wear expensive clothes. Instead, we get to understand what motivates them, haunts them and moves them.
8. The Time Traveler's Wife by Audrey Niffenegger
A beautifully written story of Henry, a Time Traveler and Clare, the woman he falls in love with. Henry's problem is that his genetic clock resets itself at will. He goes back and forth in time so that Clare never knows what age he'll be when he appears or when he'll appear. It demands they be always accepting and always ready for the unexpected. It's a wonderful and extremely clever story.
9. The Secret Life of Bees by Sue Monk Kidd
The story of Lily, who at the age of four years old, accidentally shot and killed her mother. What a strong beginning! It has themes of guilt and hated. Lily's guilt, her father's hated of her for this. There's also racial hatred. When Lily finds, love and acceptance in the home of the bee-keeping sisters who knew her mother, she finds love and forgiveness that heals. It's a beautiful book and a haunting book.
10. All in the Mind by Jenny Twist
This is a clever and engaging story about a young couple, Tilly and Johnny, who marry during the WW11. In her old age Tilly succumbs to Alzheimer's, which blights their lives and Johnny ends up having a stroke. However, she participates in an experiment where not only does she recover, but she begins to grow younger. Her husband is then included and the two are isolated in the house they lived in as a young couple. After some time, he recovers and he too becomes younger. This leaves ethical and social questions that have never before arisen. There are themes of rescue, rejuvenation and unending love and friendships.
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